Posted: Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Why build your resilience skills…

Prior to the arrival of the pandemic, the subject of stress in the workplace and building resilience skills to address it, were regular issues discussed in coaching meetings with clients. Globally, people now work in constantly connected, always-on, highly demanding work cultures where stress and the risk of burnout are widespread. This feeling has been compounded since the onset of the pandemic and in many instances underpinned by home working and its associated issues.

While the pandemic will eventually pass, it is unlikely this pace and intensity of contemporary work culture will change.

“Resilio” means to jump back….

Resilience derives from the Latin word resilio, which means to “jump back”. Interestingly, while working in the field of coaching, I have repeatedly seen, that the most resilient individuals and teams are not the ones that do not fail, but rather the ones that fail, learn, and thrive because of it. Being challenged – sometimes severely – is part of what activates resilience as a skill set. Within the military for instance, soldiers are regularly exposed to scenarios designed to build their resilience skills. These exercises are repeated and adapted over and over affording these soldiers the opportunity to assess their options, decide and act. They learn that you only fail when you quit.

Traits of resilient leaders…

This tenacious mindset is supported by several other characteristics common among resilient people. Resilient leaders respond rather than react. They appreciate and adapt to what they have, rather than lamenting what they may be lacking. As masters of their own wellbeing, they have made peace with their past rather being its victim. They practice self-compassion, self-care, and self-development. This self-development underpins a mindset of growth and mastery rather than mediocrity. This mindset also values education over entertainment. They also embrace change and they never stop starting.

5 ideas to develop your resilience skills…

So how can we develop resilience and stay motivated in the face of the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) in which we now work and live? Here are some simple ideas, based on some of the latest neuroscience, behavioural, coaching, and organizational research:

1. Exercise Mindfulness –

People in the business and military world, are increasingly turning their attention to mental training practices associated with mindfulness – and for good reason. Scientists have discovered that mindfulness can assist judgement accuracy, enhance insight related problem-solving, facilitate job performance and is a practical and effective means of reducing employee stress. So, find a mindfulness exercise that works for you and start practicing it now.

2. Monotask your workload –

Rather than continually multi-tasking, learn the skill of “serial monotasking”. Work in blocks and focus on each block until it is complete. Learn to reprogramme your work habits. If distractions encroach on your performance, identify and remove them. Focus is the key.

3. Take detachment breaks –

Pay attention to the energy cycles you experience every day. Mental focus, clarity and energy cycles are typically 90-120 minutes in length. Therefore, it may be useful to step away for a few minutes to reset the energy levels whenever you feel you may be dipping. Stand up, stretch, walk around for one minute then restart.

4. Develop mental agility –

Rather than reacting to an event, learn to respond to it. This “response agility” is the ability to pause, step back, reflect, shift perspectives, create options and choose wisely. So, practice this response agility next time you encounter a stressful event. Pause, assess your options, then choose your course of action.

5. Cultivate compassion –

Often overlooked as a resilience skill is the ability to practice self- compassion and compassion for others. Research has shown that compassion increases positive emotions, creates positive working relationships, and increases cooperation and collaboration. So, give yourself a break! Learn from your mistakes and take the learnings into your next stressful situation.

A worthwhile investment…

The ability to develop resilience as a skill is well worth the investment – both for yourself and your organisation. However, like any new skill it takes time and the more often you practice these drills, the better you become at that skill. So, start now to apply some or all of these ideas until they become embedded habits that will make you stronger and better able to address challenging issues as they present.

If you or any colleagues struggle with resilience and you would like to discuss your challenges, why don’t you give me a call.